Radif was compiled in the 19th century by Aqâ Ali Akbar Farâhâni, and completed after his death by his two sons Mirzâ Abdollah and Aqâ Hossein-Qoli.

During the reign of The Qajars, music was beginning to spread once more among courtiers and people, owing to the kings’ numerous trips abroad which enabled them to attend musical performances and realize the importance of music in society. During the same period, Prime Minister Amir Kabir, who was from the town of Farâhân, summoned Târ player Ali Akbar Farâhâni to prepare a syllabus for teaching Persian music, in imitation of the European method for music education.

Up to then, Persian music was confined to the pre-Safavid Maqâm music which had gradually faded away and forgotten. Music ran a slow course in different towns, each town or region having its own special music. Ali Akbar Farâhâni began collecting different melodies, teaching them by Târ to his students, including his nephew Aqâ Gholâm Hossein. Farâhâni died at the age of 35, and his two sons Mirzâ Abdollah and Aqâ Hossein-Ali began learning music under the supervision of Aqâ Gholâm Hossein. Farâhâni’s sons continued their father’s work; they learned the tunes and melodies compiled by their father, and after a while called them Gusheh. These were in fact Farâhâni’s mental resources, those he had heard either from his masters or other musicians. Also, some of them were related to the folk music of different parts of Iran, to which Farâhâni had somehow managed to listen. These melodies can be regarded as the music of bygone epochs and generations existing in fragments among musicians, passed down the generations, gathered and organized in the Qajar era by Ali Akbar Farâhâni. After his death, his sons Mirzâ Abdollah and Aqâ Hossein-Ali continued his work, collecting about 240 melodies, or Gousheh-s. Based on the similarities and connections between some of them, they fitted these Gusheh-s into five Avâzes and Seven Dastgâh-s, registering a Dastgâh for each of them, with specific names.

It appears that the philosophy behind categorizing Gusheh-s in seven Dastgâh-s and five Avâzes had to do with the significance of the numbers five and seven, and the sum of them, 12, and their philosophical, religious and mythological meanings. Meanwhile, creating other sets and making other Avâzes continued, so much so that some of the contemporary maestros have added an Âvâz called “Kord-o Bayât” or “Bayât-e Kord” to their Radifs, and in some performances, the name “Shushtari Âvâz” has been chosen as the title of that performance. In the Radifs of the maestros, each of these names has been introduced as a Gusheh. Also, in most Radifs, the numbers five and seven, and their sum 12, have been preserved for the Avâzes, Dastgâh-s and Radifs respectively.

Considering the Farâhâni Family’s mastery in playing Târ, together with its vast versatility, the Radif compiled by them was organized and named “Instrumental Radif” for educational purposes. It should be noted that the Radif which Mirzâ Abdollah compiled and taught differs in details with that of Aqâ Hossein Qoli’s. One must also consider that at the time, due to a lack of notation tradition and recording, the masters passed the Radifs on to their students through listening.

Radif was for the first time written in European notation style by Mehdi Qoli Hedâyat. In 1962, the first instrumental Radif was organized and published in notation form by Musâ Khan Maroofi, one of Vaziri’s students, and then performed on Târ by Zarrin Panjeh, and then published. This Radif was the first version of Mirzâ Abdollah’s Radif. Other versions of Mirzâ Abdollah and Aqâ Hossein-Ali’s Radifs include those by Morteza Neydavood, Noor-Ali Borumand, Abolhasan Saba, etc., which have been compiled and notated by their students.

Because of the significance of Persian poetry and its deep connection with Persian music, and ultimately the importance of Âvâz in Persian music, Abdollah Davâmi, a singer living in the same era as Mirzâ Abdollah and Aâa Hossein-Gholi, decided to collect a Radif for the purpose of teaching Âvâz. Based on the melodies he had heard or learned from his maestros, as well as some melodies of different parts of Iran which were performed with poetry as Âvâzes, he compiles a vocal Radif called “Radif-e Âvâzi ” and taught it to his students. Mahmood Karimi, a student of his, used Davâmi’s Radif, and after adding and dropping some of the melodies, relying on what he had heard, and changing some of the lyrics, recorded the first Radif-e Âvâzi. After that, Davâmi himself, at an old age, recorded the Radif he had compiled himself.

Prominent ney player Hassan Kassaie, has used this instrument (which is the only instrument for the training of which  Radif-e Âvâzi is used instead of instrument Radif  “Radif-e Sâzi”) to play and record three various courses of Radif-e Âvâzi along with singing and playing Ney and Setâr.

There are differences in names and details of the many recorded Radifs, a major reason for which being the recording date for each of them.

It should be noted that Iran is a vast country with an ancient history which is home to different cultures. This has resulted in the creation of different types of music (Gilaki, Kordi, Lori, etc.). In essence, Radif is the linchpin and the shared language in Persian music, inspired by this diversity of tunes.

One could safely conclude that Radif is the subject matter and the creative factor in classical Persian music. However, there are other types of music in Iran, such as pop, folk and religious music.